Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on the stand today.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on the stand today.

Damning testimony from police chief

The Chief of the Minneapolis Police Department has told court former officer Derek Chauvin's application of pressure to George Floyd's neck violated the department's policy on appropriate use of force.

Mr Floyd died in May of last year after Chauvin knelt on him for 10 minutes, despite pleas that he couldn't breathe.

Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter, and could face up to 15 years in jail.

Today the jury heard from Chief Medaria Arradondo, who has led the MPD since 2017.

Prosecutors asked him about the department's policy on use of force against members of the public.

"Sanctity of life and the protection of the public shall be the cornerstones of the MPD's use of force policy," that document states.

"Of all the things that we do as peace officers, the thousands of calls that our men and women respond to, it is my firm belief that the one singular incident we will be judged on forever will be our use of force," Chief Arradondo explained.

"And so, while it is absolutely imperative that our officers go home at the end of their shifts, we want to ensure that community members go home too. And so sanctity of life is absolutely vital, that is the pillar for our use of force."

RELATED: New footage from George Floyd's final hours

Asked whether he thought Chauvin had done enough to de-escalate the situation after Mr Floyd had been restrained, having been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $US20 note, Chief Arradondo was blunt.

"I absolutely do not," he said.

"That action is not de-escalation. And when we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life, and when we talk about the principles and values that we have, that action goes contrary to what we're taught.

"It has to be objectively reasonable. We have to take into account the circumstances, information, the threat to the officer, the threat to others, and the severity of that.

"So that is not part of our policy. That is not what we teach."

He said that while police officers were taught how to use neck restraints, they would typically limit themselves to "light to moderate pressure".

"When I look at the facial expression of Mr Floyd, that does not appear in any way, shape or form, to be light or moderate pressure," he said.

The prosecution asked Chief Arradondo when he thought Chauvin should have stopped kneeling on Mr Floyd's neck.

"Once Mr Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalise that, that should have stopped," he said.

"There's an initial reasonableness in trying to get him under control, in the first few seconds. But once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr Floyd was no longer responsive, and even motionless ...

"To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that in no way, shape or form part of our policy, it's not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values."

RELATED: Judge castigates George Floyd witness

Today's evidence from law enforcement officials followed a large amount of testimony from witnesses to the incident last week, including a firefighter who said she was denied the chance to give Mr Floyd medical assistance.

"There was a man being killed," Genevieve Hansen told the jury.

"I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities. And this human was denied that right."

Ms Hansen specifically blamed police officer Tou Thao, who was on the scene alongside Chauvin, for refusing to give her access to Mr Floyd.

"He said something along the lines of, 'If you really are a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved,'" she recounted.

"That wasn't right. That was exactly what I should have done. There was no medical assistance on scene, and I got there and I could have given medical assistance. That's exactly what I should have done."

Asked what she would have done, given the chance, she said she would have checked Mr Floyd's airway for obstructions and checked his pulse.

"When I didn't find a pulse, if that was the case, I would have started compressions, and continued impressions at a rate of 100 a minute until help arrived," Ms Hansen explained.

She said she told the officers that, if they weren't going to allow her into the scene, they should check his pulse themselves and start compressions if necessary.

"That wasn't done either," she said.

Originally published as Damning testimony from police chief